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Formerly Haslemere, Hindhead & Headley Music Club – founded in 1934

Haslemere in the 1920s
By the early part of the twentieth century Haslemere and its neighbourhood, linked to London by the railway, had become home to many distinguished people and an artistic centre for artists, musicians, and writers. Societies such as the Arts Society and the Haslemere Music Society were formed. The Museum was established. Weavers worked at Inval. Each year a widely followed Pantomime was performed. The Dolmetsch family came to live at Jesses in Haslemere, and established an annual Festival.

Early in the 1920s a London agent and Miss Annie Bristow, a talented local actress, musician and dramatist, started a series of International concerts which continued until 1934. Performers included Elizabeth Schumann, Pablo Casals, Myra Hess and the Busch Quartet.

In 1924 a branch of the British Music Society was formed in Haslemere. Concerts were held in members' houses. The first was given by Mrs Kennedy Fraser, the famous collector of Hebridean songs; and one of the last by Bernard Shore, the great viola player.

HHH Music Club is founded
In 1934 the British Music Society closed down for financial reasons.  The Haslemere branch decided to continue, and reconstituted itself as the Haslemere, Hindhead and Headley Music Club under the guidance of Miss Honor Batchelor an enthusiastic amateur violinist.

The Club's first concert was given on 19th January 1934 at Toothill, Haslemere, the home of Mrs. Blackburn.  The four lady performers included Miss Honor Batchelor. As well as a Mozart oboe quartet, the programme included two first performances of string quartets. One was by Dr Maurice Blower, who had recently gained a doctorate in music from Oxford University, and the second by a leading Portuguese composer D. Luis de Freitas Branco, noble descendant of the 16th century Portuguese composer Damaio de Goës.

Mrs Kennedy-Fraser
Mrs Kennedy-Fraser
During the following years concerts continued to be held in members' houses, generally in the afternoons followed by tea. From the start it was the policy of the Club to engage the very best of young players graduating from the London colleges, while also inviting more mature artists to perform from time to time.  Jacqueline du Prés, James Galway, Steven Isserlis and Barry Douglas were amongst the many young musicians who played for the HHH in the early stages of their careers.

The War Years
In 1939 Miss Honor Batchelor was still running the Club and, as war was declared, announced her intention of continuing the concerts.  She felt strongly that musicians needed engagements and the audience of the HHH Music Club needed musical nourishment at a time of great anxiety and danger.  Performers during the war included a young tenor, Roy Sheldon invalided out of the Navy, and a cellist Juliette Alvin who had moved to Haslemere to escape the London air-raids.

Committees and Chairmen
Until 1971 the HHH had only two Chairmen - Professor Spalding and Mr Thorold Harper. Miss Honor Batchelor continued as Secretary of the HHH until her retirement in 1958 at the age of 80. Mr Harper presided as Chairman for 32 years. His wife Shelagh was Secretary from 1958 until 1976, and in her turn Chairman for the last five of those years. Mr and Mrs Harper were deeply committed to the HHH and hosted most of the concerts between 1958 and 1969 at their home, Moor Park, Hindhead.

In 1976 Jane fforde became secretary, and in 1984 chairman, when Mrs Harper became the Club's President. On the resignation of Jane fforde in 1987 Anna Hill became chairman and continued until 2010 when Alastair Vartan was elected. At the same time a new post of artistic director was created and was filled by Anna Hill until June 2013 when she retired from the HHH Committee. Susan Milan was appointed as the new Artistic Director. In 2015 Pauline Lamb was elected as Chairman.  In 2018 Philip Berg took over as Artistic Director, with Rodney Sutton taking on the role of Treasurer on the retirement after 25 years of John Jeffrey.

Mr and Mrs Thorold Harper Shelagh Thorold Harper
Jane fforde
Mr and Mrs Thorold Harper Shelagh Thorold Harper Jane fforde
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Looking for a Home – Venues
In April 1969 the Club moved to its last private home. This was Pine House, Hindhead, owned by Miss Gill. Its specially built Music Room could seat an audience of 120. Miss Gill died in 1970; and her companion Miss Davidson enabled the HHH to continue to hold concerts there until she died in 1975.

The next six concerts were at the Methodist Church at Wey Hill. In 1977 Mrs Hughes-Chamberlain invited the Club to use the concert hall at her Hindhead School of Music.
From 1981 the lecture room at the Haslemere Museum, under the care of Mr Arthur Jewell the curator, was home to the HHH.  Since 1989, almost all the concerts have been held in St. Christopher's Church.

In 1979 the HHH became affiliated to the National Federation of Music Societies, now known as Making Music.  From this time all concerts were open to the general public although the HHH continued to be called a music club until 1993.  In 1994, the HHH acquired charitable status.

Lecture Hall, Haslemere Museum in 1929
Lecture Hall at Haslemere Museum, 1929
Reproduced courtesy of Haslemere Educational Museum

Expansion – New Enterprises
From 1991 the HHH embarked on a number of new enterprises the first of these being joint fund-raising concerts at King Edward’s School, Witley.  The purpose was not only to raise funds for King Edward’s School Bursary Fund and HHH future concerts but also to introduce the HHH to a wider audience. 

A number of chamber orchestras and ensembles featured in concerts between 1991 and 2001 including the Guildhall String Ensemble, St Bride’s Chamber Orchestra, Bernardi Chamber Orchestra, Southern Pro Musica and the Surrey Mozart Players.  Young musicians from the Countess of Munster Recital Scheme often appeared as soloists.  Christmas concerts were held in St Bartholomew’s Church given by the Guildford Chamber Choir in 1993 and 1995 and the De Beauvoir Singers and Players in 1997.  These were friendly, festive occasions with Christmas music, carols for choir and audience and followed by mulled wine and mince pies in the Church Hall.

Lyric Quartet, Nigel Foster, Stephen Douse
Lyric Quartet with Nigel Foster and Stephen Douse
A New Name
In 1993 the club’s name was changed to HHH Concerts.  This marked a change in style from an intimate club to a society promoting a series of evening concerts open to the public.  The aim of HHH Concerts is to offer the opportunity of hearing outstanding musicians performing locally.  Over the years the audience has been drawn from a wider area and has grown significantly so that St Christopher’s is often filled to capacity. 
During these years more ambitious concerts were planned and to fund these sponsorship was obtained from a number of businesses and trusts.

The Millennium
To celebrate the Millennium a festival was organised over a week-end in May 2000 in conjunction with the Farnham and Bourne Music Club. This included recitals, talks and concerts in Haslemere (at St Christopher’s Church, the Hindhead Music Centre and Highfield School) and in Farnham at the Farnham Maltings.  James Lisney planned the programmes and chose the artists, also taking part himself.

Seventieth Anniversary
The 70th Anniversary celebration in May 2005 took the form of a recital by the distinguished cellist Steven Isserlis with pianist Ian Brown.  This formed the centre-piece of an evening at Champs Hill, the lovely home of David and Mary Bowerman in West Sussex. The recital, which took place in the Music Room, was preceded by a tour of the gardens and a reception.

Champs Hill
Champs Hill, West Sussex
Recent Performers
Highlights over the last ten years have been outstanding performances by some very fine artists including: the Wihan Quartet, Szymanowski Quartet, Danish Quartet, pianists Bernard d'Ascoli, Martin Helmchen, Igor Tchetuev and John Lill and ensembles Benedetti Piano Trio and London Concertante.

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